The initial defense of the government and those who agree with them, at least so far as to the Cybercrime law was predicated on the argument that while Freedom of Speech is a right, it isn’t absolute. Over the course of the pro-cybercrime people trying to explain their tacit support for the legislation stems from a position first of anger, fear, and ignorance.
“I have been wronged,” is far reaching.
“I have been wronged, and attacked online”. We become angry when hurt.
“I want this bad material about me taken offline stat”. Our rage begins when our worldview— our ego is shattered.
“I want the person behind these lies imprisoned— or worst. Shut those servers down.” Never mind of course to determine who is right, determined by a third party who have no emotional bias towards the complainant.
And so on.
It is a human response, is it not?
Tell me if I’m wrong? Tell me this doesn’t strike you as the first reason why you would favor the Cybercrime Prevention Act because someone said something bad about you online?
That you were in the vernacular of the uninitiated, “cyberbullied”.
Did you see what I just did there? I sent my disdain for ignorance, and lack of intelligence. That how we mostly are, online. We despise when people show a lack of intelligence— or common sense.
We ridicule people online. That’s what these people see as “Cyberbullied”, at least most of the time. We ridicule their lack of intelligence.
It is easy to ridicule when all you have to see are text and an avatar. It is easy to ridicule when there isn’t a human face behind the screen. Being intelligent doesn’t preclude one from being rude, or worst. Suddenly it is a world where the nerds and geeks “bully” the jocks and the cheerleaders for their lack of “intelligence”.
It is a war of attrition really.
It is a war between the nerds and geeks who make the Internet home, versus people in the real world— who neither understand, nor willing to understand that the nerds and geeks are turning the world upside down. The nerds and geeks finally have found a place where they can be who they naturally are. Intelligent without being ridiculed. If you are not intelligent, you are nothing in the new world order. And so far, that New World Order exist primarily in cyberspace.
People fear, what they naturally don’t understand.
Normal people don’t understand what’s it like living in a world of the byte. The Mentor said it best in his “The Hacker Manifesto“:
“I am a hacker, enter my world…
Mine is a world that begins with school… I’m smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me…
Damn underachiever. They’re all alike.
I’m in junior high or high school. I’ve listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. “No, Ms. Smith, I didn’t show my work. I did it in my head…”
Damn kid. Probably copied it. They’re all alike.
I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it’s because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn’t like me…
Or feels threatened by me…
Or thinks I’m a smart ass…
Or doesn’t like teaching and shouldn’t be here…
Damn kid. All he does is play games. They’re all alike.”
So yes, it feels like an invasion into a way of life. Each side is threatened and each side acts out of fear, anger, and ignorance. It is easier to be rude to a display, than to a flesh and blood human. In real life you can at least have rudimentary clues like body language and tone of voice to determine the other person’s emotions. It is easy to feel slighted, and to fear when you it is a whole new universe with seemingly different culture, wants, or needs. Because that’s what digital is— a parallel universe, the same but different where the people who understand and have affinity for technology naturally take root.
So that’s what the debate on the Cybercrime Prevention Act is really about. One side hurt, and filled with ignorance trying to grasp through the prism of their own experiences what this is, and another side demanding equal standing that they have longed for, and that in no other time has the little guy mattered more because it is so democratized. So naturally, it is a battle of ideas. And so too is the best outcome predictable— one in which fairness and equality matter. It is the outcome that amalgamates these two extremes.
This in the end is what the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom is about. It takes the wants and needs of people long suppressed, and ensures they will no longer be persecuted. It takes the other extreme— as equally important. That there is a need for a limited form of protection so that those very liberties are not trampled with, nor abused. It goes back to the very Constitution we have all agreed to be the bedrock of our society: “in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.”
While some quarters may frame it as an argument about “With great power comes great responsibility”, I think it is just the beginning. It is just the tip of the iceberg. It is about framing tomorrow’s perspective. It is about bridging these two worlds.
The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom was crafted “without malice toward none”. It is, I believe the proper balance and response to a world that constantly threatens to pass us all by. It neither strikes from anger nor fear. It doesn’t achieve from ignorance, but from the ideal of fairness and equality, and the hope that that by creating these chances, we do, and can establish a better tomorrow. (You may checkout the Primer in PDF format) It is why whatever the outcome of the Cybercrime Prevention Act matters to everyone— online or offline. So it isn’t about “Great Power and Great Responsibility.” This is about fighting ideas with better ideas. It is the idea of the Cybercrime Prevention Act— a law hammered on the premise of ignorance, of fear and anger versus the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, which is founded on four principles: rights, governance, development, and security.